Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Housekeeping note

Hello, everyone.

I am away from my desk for a few days. Regular posting will resume in about a week.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Replacing lost gear

Hello, everyone.

I believe it was mentioned that I lost the stuff sack for the rain poncho while hiking into Coimbra, Portugal. (It was the only off-and-on rainy day of the entire trip. And at some point the rain returned while we were going up and down hilly streets in the suburb south of the city. I shoved the stuff sack into a pocket. Mistake. Never saw it again.)

Random plastic grocery sacks can only work just so well at containing the billows and bumps of a yard or more of taffeta.

When we got home it was time to figure out a new container for the poncho.

Components, partially constructed. Cylinder is inside out.
 There was some of the orange trilobal nylon lying around from earlier experimenting. I cut a rectangle big enough to go around a 4 1/2" diameter dish and traced the dish to produce the circle for the bottom. Then cut the remainder of the orange fabric into bias strips and sewed them into a long pieced bias strip. Sewed that into a rouleau tube--self-filled tubing, which was not cooperative when it came time to turn it right side out--for the drawstring. Made a cylinder of the rectangle and that's the point at which this picture was taken.

It's hard to see, but the selvages of the side seam were zigzagged and sewn down. The ends of the cylinder ran through the serger. There is a break in the side seam where one edge is folded down--that's the access point for the tube.

The circle was sewn to the bottom of the cylinder (many, many pins) and that seam allowance was sewn down for stability.

The rouleau was threaded through the tube and a knot and a couple of decorative beads added. This was the point at which I realized that (1) I needed a cord lock and (2) there are none in the house. Oops.

The poncho is stuffed inside the bag in the bottom photo and the opening is mostly closed by a slip knot in the cord.  I think it will do--the poncho isn't the kind of tiny thing that can worm itself out that opening after all.

New stuff sack.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Princess Leia was underdressed

Hello, everyone.

I know this is out of sequence, but on looking over some of the photos from the pilgrimage I came across this one:

This pre-Roman carving from Iberia is just amazing. (Makes me want to have a costume party, just so I can have Elizabethan rolls at the base of cinnamon buns!) The piece is called the Lady of E...something long that I forgot. Check out all the bead necklaces and the triple row diadem.

From the Museo Archeologico Nacional in Madrid.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A few comments on gear, now that we're home

Hello, everyone.

I found that I'd learned a lot about packing, and packing up in the morning, last year when I didn't think I was learning anything. I had certainly felt like I knew nothing at all! But this year, when we rolled out in the morning, the whole experience was better.

Last year, every time I needed the toothbrush, or the hairbrush, or to do my feet in the morning, it was an entire archeological dig to find what I needed, and then an entire project to get it all back into the pack. Usually followed by another dig and replacement session. There were morning where I just wanted to cry, it was so discouraging.

This year was different. We didn't have nearly the amount of unpacking and repacking, and we got out efficiently in the morning most of the time.

I had made a bag (8"x 8") just for medical things and secured it to the inside of the pack near the opening, so the Bufferin or the sewing kit were easy to find. The bag was mesh fabric, with a zipper closure, and had a strap with a snap to attach it near the top of the pack. There was a separate bag for bedtime supplies that came out as a whole and went back as a whole. This eventually was in another sturdy plastic store bag, but the basic system worked well.

Last year's sewing kit of a small plastic tube with thread and needles and the eyeglasses screwdriver, combined with a small scissors in its own bag, was replaced with a needle book type kit with a piece of felt to hold the needles and straight pins, a rubber band arrangement next to the needles for the screwdriver, and a card tucked behind the scissors case that held chunks of thread in various colors. The needle book worked out very well and fit nicely into a Ziplock bag for travel.

The entire shoe and sock setup was new, and the bright orange paracord laces were only the outside bit. I had new insoles in my old boots (Dr. Scholls Gel Work Insole for women) and 4 pairs of Injinji liner socks. The plan was to wear the Injinji under another sock, to prevent rubbing. That proved to take up too much space in the boot, and I ended up wearing the Injinji alone almost every day. They did wonders to prevent toe blisters. And even though I was now wearing a fairly thin hiking sock, there wasn't a lot of slipping around. The feet and the gel insole took up enough space to make it not be a problem. Next time I go shopping for hiking boots, though, I'm going to take insole and socks with me and try on the whole kit and caboodle at once in the store.

Making a shirt with a mesh back insert
I had fiddled around with scrap fabrics in my workroom and made an orange shirt with a mesh back and reflective piping. It would have been perfect, except that the thin orange fabric was moisture resistant, and so it was best suited to wearing in the evening.

The clothes rapidly ended up inside a sturdy plastic back from some store or another, and that proved to be a great idea. The clean-clothes bag could be pulled up to the top for access and then put back as a unit.

The walking sticks went, but they were never actually used for balance while walking. Instead, they were used to keep stray dogs away from our legs. One of the tiny villages outside Alviazere had 7 aggressive stray dogs in a pack, and we were very vigorous at waving the walking sticks! The dogs kept their distance. When we got to Santiago, we packed the sticks into the inside of the pack so they wouldn't be a problem walking in crowded places.

The sun hats were great, again, but by the time we came home they desperately needed a trip through the washing machine. They also provided comedy relief to people who saw us, apparently--this an unexpected bonus since we got them to keep from having sunburn on our heads.

The rain ponchos we used last year went again, but we should have sprayed them with some more water-resistance. Also, sadly, the stuff sack for mine jumped out of a pocket while we were walking through the outskirts of Coimbra, never to be seen again. (Now replaced by an orange stuff sack from shirt scraps of the nylon trilobal stuff. It's slippery. It would be a perfect stuff sack if it had a cord lock! Instead it has a slip knot on the draw string to hold the back mostly closed.)

We had no sleeping bags, having chosen to take only the Cocoon liners and a fleece to use if needed. The fleece came in handy as a second pillow if one wanted to read in bed, and after I fell and got a big bruise, as a warm cover to keep the healing going strong.

The plastic sporks came in very handy--no arguments about getting a yogurt to eat later, because the spouse was perfectly aware that, yes, we had spoons.

I used up the tiny bottle of travel laundry soap (it was a machine washing type, but if used in small doses worked fine in sinks) and ended up buying the smallest container of dish soap we could find. I could have used a partial-bar sized chunk of Zote, but didn't have one. The 10 foot piece of paracord and the clothespins came in handy. We made impromptu clotheslines inside bathrooms more than once.

We had packed warm clothes but rarely needed them. We wore tee shirts most of the time because this was the year that the Camino Portugues was hot. DH had a Duluth Trading Company Armachillo shirt that worked out very well for him. I had my old Columbia fishing shirt which was fine.

Shorts--oh the shorts. Oh, the chafing at first on the sweaty trail. Later on either the skin adapted or the heat wasn't quite as bad as the first three days of walking. I had also brought a pair of capri-length lycra type leggings. When the chafing was awful, I walked in them for a few days. It was chafing free, but had other problems. The leggings were too tight around the knee--maybe the calves were getting larger?--and made the joint sore. Eventually I tossed them. Lesson learned: be very careful about fit with the Lycra stuff.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The walk begins

Hello, everyone.

On our third morning in Lisbon, we cleared out of our pensao and went to the city bus stop for the route to the edge of town.

The bridge  at the Parque des Nacoes

A pipeline bridge--we didn't actually need to cross that one!

Most of that day's walking was through the river valley and the swamps. We did a lot of levee walking.
That night we stayed in Vilafranca da Xira, which was a 30-ish km walk. (20 miles, about.)

We were so tired we didn't care much that we couldn't find dinner when we went looking. (Too early? Too late? Dunno.) The train station there had beautiful tiles.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lisbon, part 3

Hello, everyone.

The other big museums/sights we saw in Lisbon were both on the same day, thanks to the city bus system.

First we took the Metro to the nearest stop to the Tile Museum. Then we asked directions and started walking. We were supposed to look for a grocery store sign: Lidl, which is right in front of the museum. Well, we walked right past it, and most of the way to the Parque des Nacoes. Then we figured out that we'd missed something. But we saw things en route, too.

Public art. 

Camino waymarker. That rough stuff around it is pretty standard for Portuguese pavement, too.
We did get ourselves straightened out, and by studying the maps in bus stops discovered that it is easy to get from the Tile Museum on one side of the city to the Jeronymite Monastery on the far side of it. And we were able to use our pre-paid metro system passes to pay the fare, too!

These are only two of the many, many works of art in the Tile Museum. It also includes a chapel--it was apparently a royal residence at one time. The bottom tile mural is in the chapel.

The monastery of the Jeronymite order is in a nearby beach town to Lisbon (basically a suburb) but even though it's very near by there was only some damage from the 1755 earthquake. (As opposed to the near total destruction to low lying areas of the main city from the quake and tsunami!) They did lose the railing on the choir loft. I didn't notice any visible cracking during the tour, so either it was fixed or, more likely, they got lucky and didn't have a whole lot of damage there.

The elaborate decorations on the front of the monastery are famous.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama!
Half of a confessional
A major part of the apostolate of the Jeronymite priests was to hear the confessions of seamen. They had enclosed confessionals in the church, with a little slit for air, and each one was matched to a booth that opened in the cloister for the priest to be in. (These are the only enclosed confessionals I have ever seen in the Iberian peninsula. All the rest have been like fancy wardrobe closets, with a booth for the priest and kneeler on the outside for the penitent. If you've been to St. Peter's in Rome, you've seen the design.)

The order eventually faded and now the monastery is under the care of the government museum people.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lisbon sights

Hello, everyone.

While we were recuperating from the flight over, we saw interesting things in Lisbon.

There was the Castello de Sao Joao, dedicated to St. John the Baptist who is extremely popular in Portugal.

You have to climb a lot of steps and slopes to get up there, but the view is great.

The staircase alone was over 100 steps. And then there were sloping lanes! Clearly this castle had an excellent view of the surrounding countryside when it was built.

There were some archeological investigations inside the complex, too. A prehistoric Celtic village and a historical era compound occupied by Muslim administrators (who had stayed over from the previous regime, I think) were excavated and labeled for the visitor to see.

Just imagine doing this stair in a hurry, with armor on!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Recap of arrival in Portugal

Hello, everyone.

When we arrived in Portugal, at 8:20 or so in the morning, we found our way to the Metro station and discovered their system for payment. (No, the metro driver doesn't come around and collect money from you. No, you don't pay as you board. It's Modern and Cool instead.)

The Lisbon Metro has pay in advance cards. You buy the fare holder, a cardboard card with apparently an RFID chip in it, and at the same time as you buy the holder, you buy fare. We bought 2 days of the by-the-day fare for each of us, which covered until we left town. The vending machine tallies up everything, the half a euro card fee and all the fares you're paying in advance, and gives you a total to pay. You can insert paper euro notes into the machine. Then, when you board the Metro, you lay your cute little card (don't leave it in a pocket where it will get folded!) on the reader device and the little gate opens and you board the metro for that trip. The by-the-day fares are by clock reading: if you pay at 10 am, that's theoretically when it expires the next day. There are lots of conveniently located Metro stations, and color coded maps for the 4 different lines. (The Metro is in addition to the buses, though you can use the by-the-day card on the buses, and in addition to the actual trains, which are a separate system altogether.)

Statue of a Portuguese king in Praza Commercio.
As mentioned in the first post on Lisbon, weeks ago, we rumbled around downtown Lisbon for a while because check-in time for the pension was around noon.

We went to the shrine of St. Anthony ("of Padua") who was born in Lisbon and is very popular there. His big fiesta was coming on, and the night before we left we got to take in some of the fiesta happiness in the old neighborhood of Lisbon.

It was nice--very much like parish summer picnics in Illinois and parish jamaicas in Texas. With wine and fried goodies and beer.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gone (back) to Texas

Hello, everyone.

As you can tell from the break in posts, and the title, we're home from the pilgrimage. (And I hate the autocorrect on the kindle, too. Attentive readers know why already!)

We're very grateful to the people who held down the fort for us while we were gone, and since we got home on the day we were supposed to get home (ahem) we're also grateful to United Airlines.

The first of our pictures from the other two cameras, the ones that we couldn't get into the kindle to post at the time:

Taking pictures in the Praza de Commercio in Lisbon, after getting off the plane.
We were so glad to get out of the airplane seats. And the metro system delivered us straight to the downtown in a flash, with no problems.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An undiscovered gem

Hello, everyone.

This morning, after a determined (not very successful) attempt to sleep in, we walked the mile or so over to the Museo Archeologico Nacional. (Think about a quarter mile from the Prado.) This hasn't got the fame of the others, and the tickets were a real bargain, but it was a really great museum. We learned more than we thought there could be about Spanish history. As the introduction display says, the entire peninsula is an archeological site. They're constantly finding remnants of prior cultures when they put a shovel in g he ground to do just about anything. Some is even pre-neanderthal, it's so old.

On the way back, after being immersed in the museum for about 6 hours, we stopped in to the Museo Thysen-Bornemyssa. (Spelling not guaranteed!) We discovered that the painting I like so much isn't in the Prado collection after all, it's in the Thyssen. So my sweetie took me by the Thyssen gift shop-no joy- and then we ordered from the POD kiosk at the museum.

Later on we went out for food and I found that rabbit in gravy is really good.

I thought the reflections on this staircase were neat.

We saw some cool buildings after the sun finally set.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Madrid weather

Hello, everyone.

We're enjoying a little rest in Madrid after all that walking.

The afternoon temp was about 100 F yesterday and probably will be again today--perfect excuse for having a bowl of cold gazpacho for the first tapa of the evening!

Plaza Santa Ana at sunset

We had a yummy salmon roll yesterday for tapas, too: fresh salmon surimi wrapped around crab salad on a piece of baguette. Perfect for this weather!

We met a lovely lady who has been a "bicigrino" too. She biked the Camino Primitivo. It was great fun talking to her.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pilgrims' Mass

Hello, everyone.

Today was the Friday evening Pilgrims' Mass. I was a little surprised to see that the priests were vested in red, but Father started out by mentioning that today, July 3, is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. And as we know, St. Thomas was martyred. Thus the red vestments.

The priest gave an excellent sermon which tied together the Camino, pilgrimage, Christian life, and related themes. Then at almost the end of Mass Father said that the symbol of St. James's cathedral, the Botafumeiro, would fly today and spread sweet incense in honor of the Apostle (St. James) and the confraternity of strong men in red robes untied the rope. They loaded charcoal and incense into the burner and started swinging it. We were sitting in the pilgrim benches in the transept and it was quite a sight. (I admit it, my eyes watered. But I'm sentimental and it was so beautiful.)

Afterwards we went to the pilgrims' prayer meeting, where we learned new things: the Hail, Holy Queen we say at the end of the rosary was a gift of Santiago (written by the bishop at the time) to the rest of the Church. It was picked up by French pilgrims in Santiago and carried home and the spread from there.

Meals and Meal Times

Hello, everyone.

It occurred to me to write a little about one of the least discussed discoveries of travel: daily schedules.

If we only drop in for a few days, in the care of a tour guide, we generally don't even have to think about them. If we travel in our own country, we already know and there aren't any big surprises.

But if we go somewhere far away, across national borders, and spend some time living on their schedule, we have to adjust to changes.

To put the matter in simple terms, we in the U.S. have grown accustomed to many things being ready for us when the thought occurs that we want them. And while we know that offices aren't generally open nights and weekends, we just assume that they are open from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Every week day. And many offices even have the door open at lunch time, though there may not be much going on between 12 and 1.

We have internalized the idea that groceries are available at least between about 6 in the morning and midnight, and sometimes 24 hours a day. Ready-to-eat food likewise.

In places with smaller populations it's different. In places where everyone lives on pretty much the same schedule, it's different.

One of the key early lessons of the Camino for me has been that if I don't find out the local food customs, I may get to walk for much of the day on a few coffees and a hard-boiled egg. Plus lots of bottled water. (Nothing at all being open, or serving food, when I want to eat!) If I don't pay a little attention to the kind of country I'm walking through, I may find that there is no place to get food when it's time to eat.

There is no Pizza Hut, or Burger King, on top of the pass through the Pyrenees. The route we took last year has nothing at all for food at the very top. (Though an enterprising soul had put a little table with some water bottles, a few pieces of fruit, and a rubber stamp for credentials about 3/4 of the way up. And at the 1/3 way up point is the Orrison restaurant which will assemble a sandwich or dish out soup.)

In Portugal, finding food was so hard that I started just asking bartenders when most people eat. And no, even though they have McDonald's there, it's not open until 11 in the morning. In most of the places we were, being fairly small towns, there isn't even a bakery open to sell you a roll and coffee at 7 in the morning. In large cities you might find a few little coffee shops open, but the folks living there just don't live on that schedule.

You have to adapt to their way of doing things.

On a cheerier note, some food pictures from the last few days:

Tapas bar at Taverna del Obispo(?)
Pulpo at Petiscos Cardeal

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A cool morning out

Hello, everyone.

This morning it was 14 C in Santiago--about 57 F. A little brisk!

We found a church open this morning that we had never seen before: Igreja San Martino. It was the Benedictine church in Santiago, before the early 1800's when the orders were kicked out. On one of the altars inside there is a statue of St. Francis holding a basket. According to the interpretive sign, the Franciscans paid the Benedictines with a basket of fish to get land to build their own church in Santiago.

After we get home I will share pictures--we didn't have the kindle along on that stroll.

This afternoon we discovered the Convento de San Francisco church open. Is this the church connected to that basket of fish? At any rate we found a sculpture group with an unusual subject: the death of St. Joseph:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

We made it!

Hello, everyone.

This morning we walked the last 13 km and arrived in Santiago.

575 km, a few blisters, and here we are!